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Student Specific Grants

Grants are available for all types of students. Whether you come from a low-income family, are returning to school, or have survived cancer, there are grants for you. Most grants are need-based so remember to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon it’s available on January 1st. Other grants are merit-based and award students with high academic achievement. Merit-based grants usually have an additional application to prove your merit. Other grants are both need and merit-based, or based on entirely different criteria. Make a list of your skills and qualities and investigate the major organizations, local groups and private corporations that have funding for your skill set. Below are examples of student-specific grants.

Grants for under-represented populations

The most common student-specific grants are for under-represented populations, particularly women and minorities. Organizations fund minority groups to encourage more students to go to college.

Grants for women are common among women’s rights groups who work to promote gender equality in traditionally male-dominated fields. For example, The American Association for University Women (AAUW) awards fellowships and grants to expand educational and professional opportunities for American women. The AAUW Community Action Grant is a between $2,000 and $12,000 for undergraduate females looking to advance within a career, change careers or re-enter the work force. Preference is given to women working toward their first advanced degree and minority women.

Minority students have many funding options from private groups and organizations to get more minorities into college and in the workforce. Colleges are also highly concerned about maintaining campus diversity. For example, The United Negro College Fund awards grants predominantly to students attending historically black colleges. The National Institutes of Health awards the Minority Access to Research Careers Grant annually to support undergraduate minorities pursuing degrees in biomedicine and behavioral research.

Students with disabilities have many options to pay for school and cover special accommodations. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed in 1975. The act requires schools to provide funding and assistance for students with disabilities to make college physically and financially accessible. Many organizations that advocate for people with disabilities have grants for disabled students looking to go to college or to conduct research on disabilities. For example, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation has grant opportunities for graduate students looking to advance research in speech, language, and hearing disabilities with preference to minority and disabled students.

Grants for non-traditional students

If you’re one of the thousands of non-traditional students returning to school or pursuing a degree later in life, there are grants for you. For example, Executive Women International provides funding through its Adult Students in Scholastic Transition grant program to adults facing economic, social, or physical challenges, who want to pursue an education.

Those pursuing a college education while in the military have funding options, along with those affected by a parent or spouse who is deployed by the military. The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program is available to undergraduates who are children or spouses of former and active members of the U.S. Air Force. Recipients of the award, must keep a minimum 2.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. The award is $2,000.

Grants for survivors

There are funding opportunities for students who need financial aid after surviving a devastating disease. For example, The Cancer Survivors' Fund provides funding for young cancer survivors returning to college who volunteer to speak about their experience. There are a number of cancer scholarships available to help cancer pay for college. Contact local support groups and advocacy organizations to see what scholarships and grants available for cancer survivors going to college.

Grants for international students

International students looking to study in the U.S. can easily find funding. While it costs more for international students to study at American institutions, grant and scholarship programs are available to help pay for exchange programs. The most popular program is the Fulbright Scholar Program through the Council for International Exchange for Scholars. This program provides funding for international students studying in the U.S., and American students studying abroad. The program is competitive and most funding goes to international students looking to pursue research and advanced degrees in the United States.

For more examples of scholarships and grants based on different criteria, conduct a free scholarship search.

Last Edited: December 2015

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